Ha, you thought your birthday was over...but just one more thing before minuit: a letter of thanks.
Last night you said you had a surprise for me....
"But tomorrow is your birthday...."
"Be ready by 9:30!" You countered, and though I tried I could not get you to cough up so much as a hint as to what kind of activity we'd be doing on your special day. Anything from lunch at a friend's vineyard to a glorious walk in your beloved calanques--was this a sea urchin month? I still haven't memorized the handy (you literally count the months on your knuckles) astuce that would tell us whether it was hunting season).
Don't miss the bus! You said this morning, and I began chucking all kinds of en-cas or just-in-cases into my backpack even though we might very well be going to the movies (but no, you are too much of an adventurer! I knew we weren't headed indoors). Pitching sunscreen, an extra sweater, tennis shoes and a water bottle and wearing a wide-brimmed chapeau, I followed you out to our car (ha! No bus! You were throwing me off track). Aha, you were also wearing your maillot de bain. So swimming might be involved....
As we drove along the coast here in La Ciotat the blue sea shimmered and white feathered gabians swooped up and down the beach. Imagine that, I thought, our magnificent coastline was recently named one of the most beautiful bays in the world!
Oh, you've turned right...well, my guess was we were headed to the little Port of Capucins...to take our first ride in "Chrisline" (a traditional pointu--more about her later). You smiled, loving the game of leading me on.
After a detour in town in which we bought fresh daurade for lunch, we were heading toward our little port. Sure enough we were going to embark on the little red-trimmed boat!
The owner, Jean-Louis met us at the dock and after a quick rundown we were heading out to sea!
How close we were to the water in this tiny fishing vessel, a pointu just like the ones you proudly showed me when I moved to Marseilles in 1992. Since that time, we've dreamed of this boat...and now the day had come.
You planned simple itinerary--an aller-retour to L'isle Vert... And as we put-putted toward the horizon, I noticed the ocean spray (really the sea, but does one say "sea spray"?) Well I was now soaking in it! Oh well, the pros and cons of a little fishing boat!
With the help of many stolen kisses we reached The Green Island and pas un chat--not a cat in sight, but plenty of seagulls niched into the verdant coastline. We laughed at the memory of having lunch there, in the only restaurant on the tiny island (and it didn't have a W.-C....so the 4 of us (including Dad and Marsha) as casually as possible, filed past all the tables and, back to the dock (in plain view of the diners) slipped into the water for an impromptu swim! Ahhhhh! Never did a swim prove such a relief! Now back to the table for dessert...sly looks on everyone's faces except mine (which was as red and as embarrassed as the berries in my clafoutis !)
Having enjoyed that memory we talked about our dreams and our plans. That's when you turned off the engine and said, in French, "Let's drift." (Deriver, I believe is the verb you used.)
And so we drifted, the two of us, towards our favorite spot, La plage du Mugel. You pulled out two glasses and two different bottles. Sparkling water for me and Mas des Brun rosé for you. And we dreamed aloud, discussing a project-in-the works. If there is one thing that we love doing together, it is building something new--whether a garden or a vineyard. This time we are embarking on an entirely new path...or rather an outlet along our current path. And so we discussed the Day Tours we would like to organize for those readers with plans to visit France...
...Half-day Tours to vineyards, to calanques, and why not out to sea..on our little fishing boat?...
Just then your wine glass slid along the bow and the water began to rise up.... It's a little choppy out there, I said.
Ce sont les moutons, you pointed out. The white-topped waves grew into a sea of "sheep" and our little boat began to rock....
We made it back to port, but I'm not sure an escapade at sea would appeal to everybody. A person would have to love the fine spray of sea (all over their body), and be able to relax when the sign reads "Pas de W.-C."....
Well, my love, we'll figure it out. Meantime, here's to new projects and a new year ahead for you... "Mr. 52."
I hope Jean-Marc enjoyed this letter. You can make it even better by dropping some hints in the comments: Let us know what kind of Half-day tour would interest you:
1. A Vineyards Tour (visit one or two of our favorite places, and lunch in a café or bistro)
2. A hike in one of our scenic calanques, or sea inlets, and lunch (picnic or restaurant?)
3. A visit to one of our neighboring towns, such as Cassis or Sanary or Bandol or La Ciotat (which just this week was voted Most Beautiful Bay in the world!)
4. Cooking Together: We'll revisit our favorite family recipes and cook them here in our kitchen: La Tarte Tomate, Daurade au four, classic French salad (secrets, secrets...) and the classic yogurt cake. (Thanks, Frances, for this suggestion!)
....and, of course....
5. A ride in our Provencal fishing boat. She creaks a bit..not bad for being almost one hundred years old!
Thanks for choosing your favorite tour and adding any ideas in the comments, below.
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